12 Step Online offers anywhere between five and seven chat meetings, as well as a Zoom meeting, each and every day, 365 days per year. In between these meetings, we have recovery discussion specific to each chat room, both AA and NA — or general chit chat in the “Open Recovery Chat” room where we often talk about recovery, but have been known to discuss anything from sports to movies to cooking.
There are a few things you’ll want to know about our text chat before jumping in — before, during, and after meetings.
- Make sure you know what room you’re in!
If you look at the menu, there are several chat rooms available. The AA meeting room is, well, for AA meetings. The NA room is for NA meetings. The Open Recovery Chat room is for, as you’ve probably guessed, open chat related to your recovery. The rules in Open Recovery are a bit more lax, but if you’re chatting between scheduled meetings in the AA or NA rooms, please try to keep the topic of conversation related to your recovery from alcoholism or addiction.
- Watch your language!
There aren’t too many rules, but this is one of them. The chat software itself has a swear filter built in, but you’d be surprised how creative people can be when trying to convey vulgar language without spelling it properly.
- Use proper formatting!
We don’t care if you’re capitalizing letters, using improper punctuation or employing split infinitives — this isn’t your high school English class — but the chat software will sometimes misinterpret longer blocks of text, especially when copy/pasted out of a notepad-type application on mobile phones, as HTML (and as such, will attempt to apply the relevant HTML code before and after the text). This only happens on some devices, but if you’re seeing something you typed and nobody else is — this may be why.
- Don’t include things you shouldn’t!
Only moderators can write URLs (web links), email addresses, images, and YouTube videos into the chat rooms. If you attempt to do this, you may see it as being a part of the conversation, but it’s hidden from everybody else.
- So watch your punctuation!
To continue the previous tip, make sure you’re putting spaces after periods. For example, if you write something like “I like.it”, the chat software will think you’re trying to write a web address for a site in Italy found at the URL “like.it”. By adding a space between, in the example, the end of the word “like” and the period, the chat software will permit you to write it.
- Know who you’re talking to!
It’s easy, in recovery, to make new friends — you find yourself surrounded by like-minded individuals who are either going through the problems you’re going through, or have at some point in the past. It’s easy to trust people more than you should, much quicker than is advised. Ask yourself — if you found yourself sitting next to this person on the subway for an hour or two, would you reveal this much information about yourself? It’s safest to chat about your recovery — and leave your personal life out of it, when possible, until you’re sure it’s going to be held in confidence.
- Don’t give your full name!
By default, the chat client will use a compilation of your first and last name — e.g. “Bruce Willis” — as your “display name” in chat. For several reasons — not the least of which are the 11th and 12th traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous — you don’t want to go around making it easy for anyone to google you. Alcoholics and addicts in recovery can often make easy prey — just use your last initial, if you want a little more than just your first name. To change your display name, just click on your own name in chat and select “view profile.” After this, click on the “profile” item, and then the “edit” item. Here, you can change your name (“Die Hard”), select to only show your first name (“Bruce”), or change your last name to your last initial (“Bruce W”).
Anyone can be an Anon user — but you need to register if you want to participate in chat. If you’re in chat, look at the list of users; you’ll see a group that are just listed as Anon with a bunch of numbers behind that. These people haven’t registered for the site, but they can read what’s going on in the chat rooms. That’s fine — not everyone’s comfortable participating at first — but if you’re one of these people, you have to register to participate in both open chat and meetings. The registration process is simple, and you don’t have to give your real name at all if you don’t want to.
- Verification requires participation!
12 Step Online does offer meeting attendance verification, and we receive a lot of questions about this program. It’s a subscription — but the charges involved pay for the software that validates, generates and disburses your attendance certificates for each meeting. You must participate (“share”) in every meeting you want confirmation for! Even if the system sends you an attendance verification form, these are audited — submitting invalid forms to receive invalid certificates can (and will) get your account flagged — and we aren’t going to lie to whoever’s demanding those forms. It doesn’t matter if your share is just, “here to listen thanks” — but you must participate.
- Meetings are easy!
This one’s actually pretty simple. You wait for the chairperson to complete the introduction, at the end of which will be a request for shares. If you’d like to share, type an exclamation point (!) and wait for the chair to call you. Once called, share what’s on your mind (whether it’s related to the topic or something else related to your personal recovery). When you’re done sharing, type the word “pass” so the chair knows to move on to the next person. That’s all there is to it.
- Don’t forget about PMs!
Private Messages keep this place running! If you’ve got a question, comment, response, or suggestion while a meeting’s going on, don’t say it in the meeting room — this is called “cross-talk” and is not looked upon kindly! But if you click on a user’s name, and then select the “private message” option, you can speak to them directly without the rest of the room seeing it.
- Have fun!
As you’ll often hear in AA, “we are not a glum lot!” Just because we may not have arrived in this program under the best of circumstances, and we’re often dealing with difficulties in our lives outside of these rooms, doesn’t mean you can’t have a good time while you’re here. You’ll find that our users have an incredibly diverse set of interests. Some of them are even shameful enough to root for the New England Patriots.
If you have any other questions about chat and chat meetings, please feel free to contact anyone with a check mark next to their name in the user list. You can also contact anyone you’ve seen chairing a meeting. If you have any questions about verification, please contact [email protected] or if you’re already registered for Proof of Attendance, go to the Proof of Attendance Support Form to submit an issue.
We hope you’ve found this document useful! Please do check out one of our meetings — and of course, our resources, blogs, and forums (all of which can be found in the main menu).